Challenges of Moon missions
Горностаев А. А., Куимова М. В. Challenges of Moon missions // Молодой ученый. 2015. №11. С. 293-294.
It is a beautiful and delightful sight to behold the body of the Moon
Strong temperature variations, gamma radiation and meteor showers make the lunar surface unsuitable for life. Then what makes Moon, the fifth largest natural satellite in the Solar System and the Earth’s only natural satellite, so attractive for manned missions?
Moon is easier to see of the thousands of sights in the night sky. The Moon is a stabilizing factor for the axis of rotation of the Earth. The same side of the Moon always faces the Earth because the Moon rotates synchronously with the Earth orbit.
The Moon’s gravitational forces cause the rise and fall of the tides on Earth. As the Moon comes to the closest distance within a moon cycle, its gravitational forces lead to high tides on Earth. The moon lights the Earth’s nights for night vision of humans and animals . There are several reasons to go to the Moon:
- relatively small distance (a trip to Moon takes only about three days);
- resources (the Moon has a wealth of raw materials);
- energy production (sunlight that reaches the Moon can be converted into electric power. The produced power can be beamed to satellites or Earth and distributed around the world);
- steppingstone to other planets (the launch of spacecrafts assembled and provisioned on the Moon could be cheaper than the launch from the Earth as the Moon’s gravity is less and it requires less energy to lift a heavy spacecraft);
- astronomy (as the Moon has no atmosphere, the creation of an observatory, equipped with optical and radio telescopes, will provide the ability to obtain more detailed and clear images of remote regions of the universe than is possible in the observatories in the world; and also to conduct research on the moon high energy cosmic rays);
- geology (lunar base could benefit a wide range of sciences: physics, historical geology, biology, etc. and lead to new insights);
- technology (the construction of a lunar base which would provide the development of new technologies and new job opportunities);
- water (on the Moon, water can be extracted for human activity as it appears on it in the form of ice. With water, it is theoretically possible to create the conditions for growing foodstuffs);
- space tourism (the Moon could become attractive for space tourists) [1, 6, 7].
Lunar exploration requires the creation of a space base on the moon to:
- to conduct more in-depth study of the cosmos;
- develop lunar resources;
- establish transshipment facility (steppingstone) for further expansion into space.
The study of the Moon will promote and advance learning more about the origin and evolution of the Earth, the solar system as a whole and the influence of the moon on the Earth.
Huge natural resource reserves of iron, aluminum, titanium and the isotope helium-3 have been discovered on the Moon. These resources have the potential as a fuel for nuclear fusion reactors. Thermonuclear fusion can become more environmentally friendly than nuclear fission. Helium-3 is required for nuclear fusion. On the Moon, there are about 1 million tons that will be enough for mankind for 1,000 years (on Earth we have only 0,035 million tons of Helium-3).
As the moon has lower gravity than the Earth, broader exploration of the cosmos may be cheaper because less energy is needed to launch spacecrafts from its surface .
However, lunar surface has numerous constraints for the construction of a lunar base and facilities:
- radiation (protons, aggressive X-rays and other particles formed from solar flares come to the surface of the Moon because it has no atmosphere);
- meteors (meteors reach the surface of the Moon because it has no atmosphere and may lead to significant destructions);
- differential temperature (the Moon has huge temperature variations. The maximum day temperature may reach +130°C, the maximum night temperature may drop to -150°C);
- lunar dust (particles that are not smoothed by erosion have sharp edges. Thus, they have abrasive properties. The dust penetrates everywhere and wears out the mechanisms);
- relationship between severe lunar temperature cycles and structural and material fatigue;
- vacuum (certain materials might not be chemically or molecularly stable under a hard vacuum that surrounds the Moon and constriction in a vacuum has severe problems);
- safety and reliability of lunar structures [5, 6].
Thus, lunar missions could play a crucial role in our exploration of the solar system, the Moon and the Earth. It could become a step to the extension of man’s stay in space [3, 4]. However, there are still unsettled questions that are to be answered before going to the Moon: the design of the protection from radiation for humans and equipment, and the system of artificial gravity. Moreover, we still do not know how to protect the lunar base from meteors.
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